If you are thinking about becoming a gardener or enhancing your skills, there are two Muskogee organizations that are perfect for helping you achieve that goal.
They are the Muskogee Garden Club and the Master Gardener program, sponsored by the Muskogee County Extension Service. The Garden Club holds the record for the oldest garden club in town. It was founded in 1927 by the Chamber of Commerce with a committee called “City Beautiful.” It functioned for three years under the Chamber’s umbrella, with its first public meeting March 27 at the Severs Hotel. In 1930, the group became the independent Muskogee Garden Club. That small group of members often included their family members, which bolstered their head count. Membership was $1 a person then.
The members of both groups now meet at the Muskogee County Extension Office at the fairgrounds. The setting is not a great example of beautiful gardening, but the informative programs on all aspects of gardening make up for a less than perfect setting. The Master Gardeners meet monthly; The Garden Club meets from September to May, with a picnic at Honor Heights closing their year.
For the Garden Club, 1935 was a stellar year. The club won Better Homes & Garden’s Achievement Award for transforming the west slope of Agency Hill in Honor Heights Park. Thirty years later, the club won the National Council of State Garden Clubs Kellogg Award for its four years of landscaping the General Hospital’s Convalescent Court.
More recently, the Club has provided hanging baskets for the downtown area and a bench for the pond at Honor Heights Park. In 2021, members gave $1,200 to the Muskogee Parks Department for landscaping at Fire Station Three at 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave. Both groups provide scholarships to Oklahoma State University landscaping students.
A 10-week gardening course is required to become a Master Gardener, but anyone can attend their monthly meetings. The course covers every aspect of planting and gardening, and the large notebook is a treasure for serious gardeners. Susie Lawrence, who has a stunning garden near Braggs, was the recent speaker for Master Garden Club. A seasoned gardener, she has also hosted the MG’s for a warm weather meeting in her extensive country garden.
Refreshments are always provided for both group meetings, with gardeners also showing their varied cooking talents.
Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.